by Marzia De Giuli
ROME, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party resumed its long-standing alliance with the Northern League on Monday, in a move which analysts said would reshape the country's political future ahead of the upcoming elections next month.
Roberto Maroni, secretary of the Northern League, told a press conference at the party headquarters in Milan that his party and the PdL have reached an agreement on their alliance, after he recently threatened not to back Berlusconi if the 76-year-old media tycoon was to race for a fifth term at the helm of Italy.
Local media highlighted that it was "explicitly stated" in the deal that Berlusconi could not be prime minister again, and the top office candidate for the PdL-League coalition would possibly be PdL Secretary Angelino Alfano or former economy minister Giulio Tremonti.
Analysts described the move as a fundamental piece of the almost done puzzle that outlines Italy's political future.
In fact, in exchange for the Northern League's support at the national level, the PdL will back Maroni's bid to become the president of the northern Lombardy region, one of the League's strongholds.
Roberto D'Alimonte, a professor at LUISS University in Rome, said Lombardy is a fundamental "battleground" for the Feb. 24-25 national elections.
For months, Italian pollsters have put on top the center-left coalition of Democratic Party (PD) and Left, Ecology and Freedom party (SEL), paving the way for PD secretary and alliance leader Pier Luigi Bersani to become the country's next prime minister.
The PD, which has pledged to follow caretaker prime minister Mario Monti's austerity policy while focusing on job creation and growth, is polling at more than 30 percent, compared to some 20 percent for the PdL.
Thus, according to local experts, the PdL-League deal, though it will strengthen the center-right coalition, does not threaten to take the first place at the parliament's lower house, or the Chamber of Deputies.
However, the resumed alliance could affect the voting results in the upper house, or the Senate, where the current electoral system guarantees no clear majority for any bloc.
"Thanks to the League's support, the PdL has gained more chances to win Lombardy's votes in the Senate," D'Alimonte told Xinhua.
The same could happen in other decisive regions such as Veneto, Piedmont, Lazio and Sicily, said Dino Martirano, a political commentator of Corriere della Sera, the largest newspaper in Italy in terms of circulation.
In fact, should the PD-SEL alliance not be able to solidify a majority in the Senate, it could necessarily have to seek a deal with the centrist coalition led by Monti, which is presently polling at around 15 percent.
The Monti group is formed by political and business figures from the entire political spectrum who have expressed support for his reform "agenda" of pro-Europe guidelines aimed at stimulating the recession-hit economy after 13 months of rigorous measures introduced by his technocratic government.
Therefore, the PdL-League alliance makes it possible that Italy is headed after elections by a "left-center coalition composed by the PD-SEL plus the Monti group," D'Alimonte said.
In his view, such a heterogeneous government could be still credible at the international level, although the more radical SEL, led by Nichi Vendola, adds some uncertainty.
However, Martirano said, with the PdL-League alliance, Italy has got to a "turning point" of its electoral campaign.
According to surveys, the number of undecided as well as of those who are not intended to vote, though still around 40 percent, has continued to decrease over the past days among more than 51 million Italians due to cast their votes in the polls.
The gradual loss of consensus by anti-establishment movements, such as the Five-Star Movement led by comedian Beppe Grillo, has also highlighted that "Italians know what needs to be done in order to steer the country out of the crisis," Martirano said.
"And after learning who will be the leaders of the various coalitions, electors are now looking forward to getting acquainted with the faces and stories of the people appointed by parties to continue the recovery process started by Monti," he added.
On Monday, Vendola presented a team of people selected to represent his party in parliament, and the PD, the Monti coalition and the PdL are supposed to do so in the next few days.
Meanwhile, some "dark horses," such as the caretaker economic development minister Corrado Passera, who has ruled out the hypothesis to line up with Monti but has pledged to keep a role in the country's politics, are expected to clear their positions, further heating an electoral debate that will help Italians shape their next government.